"Earworm" is a monthly feature wherein I detail my thoughts on the most popular and provocative songs in my rotation over the past month. This will mostly manifest as an amalgam of genres and disparate thoughts on those styles, songs, albums, bands and the personal experiences I've had with them.
FREE Lil B & Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper is one of the most beautifully life-affirming artists I’ve come across, so it’s only natural that this medium – a freestyle mixtape, known for goofing around, often produces jaw-dropping results. Like the best mixtapes, Free’s relaxed, low stakes nature finds the artists shining in a way that isn’t thought acceptable on an LP. I tried singling out one track on this 35-minute mixtape, but I just can’t. People like Chance don’t grace pop culture ever. Like, dude shoutouts Chicago Public Libraries on this tape. I recently saw him live in Detroit and his presence was too big for one room. When he told the crowd he loved us, emphatically and unambiguously, it felt like hearing it from a family member.
"Anecdotes" Joanna Newsom
The opening track of Joanna Newsom’s new LP, Divers, is gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve even made it through the whole album yet as a result of running “Anecdotes” back. The song, style-wise, is what we’ve come to expect from Joanna Newsom. In fact it’s the perfect encapsulation of what she does. Her voice is immediately captivating, then the song engages in a labyrinthine passage before coming back into orbit with the following passage: “Daughter, when you are able, come down and join. The kettle’s on, and your family’s round the table. Will you come down, before the sun is gone?” Few can write such bucolic, emotionally resonant stuff. This is a top 5 song of the year.
"Stay" Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs
The more you talk about something so obvious and so simply great, like doo wop songs, the frequency for sounding stupid tends to rise. So, I’ll just say what I love about this song: the slangin’ guitar, Maurice Williams’ cavalier attitude, and the teenage feel of pleading someone to stay. Also, the first minute of this song is so incredibly efficient; we get the hook and whole gamut of emotion in 50 seconds.
"Sh-boom" The Chords
The Chords’ “Sh-boom” is driven by the caveman ethos “life could be dream.” Life could be dream if: “all my precious plans would come true” or if “you let me spend my whole life lovin’ you.” Also, don’t mind the baritone singing, “if only you’d do what I want you to, baby, we’d be so fine.” Like I said, it’s all very cavemanny, but also quite lovable in moments. A band called The Crew Cuts also did a version of “Sh-boom.” You can guess how that went.
"Locked and Loaded" Twin Shadow
George Lewis Jr.’s voice, more than most, makes for an introspective listening experience. It penetrates my thoughts. On his best songs, the singer is immediately eradicated and my own experiences supplant his. That’s a significant gift. Unfortunately, Eclipse has way too few of these moments. Although I primarily had in mind the LP version of this song, I first heard “Locked and Loaded” as an acoustic performance when Twin Shadow appeared on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, last summer. Going back to it now, I prefer the acoustic version, which is void of the uninteresting production that runs rampant through most of Eclipse.
"Kill V. Maim" Grimes
“Kill V. Maim” is some of the most successfully energetic, rage-fueled stuff since Run The Jewels 2. Grimes oscillates between pop genres old and new while facetiously claiming “I’m only a man, I do what I can.” My favorite genre pit stop is the cheerleader Go Go’s-esque chant stuff. She seems to be flirting with typically feminine-coded music while distancing herself from any attempts at definitive categorization.